Local Interactions Contribute to Spatial Correlations in Gene Expression Levels in Bacterial Groups
54 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2018 Sneak Peek Status: PublishedMore...
Many bacteria live in spatially structured assemblies where the microenvironment of a cell is shaped by the activities of its neighbors. Bacteria regulate their gene expression based on the inferred state of the environment. This raises the question whether the phenotypes of neighboring cells can become correlated through interactions via the shared microenvironment. Here, we addressed this question by following gene expression dynamics in Escherichia coli microcolonies. We observed strong spatial correlations in the expression dynamics for pathways involved in toxin production, SOS-stress response, and metabolism. These correlations can partly be explained by a combination of shared lineage history and spatial gradients in the colony. Interestingly, we also found evidence for cell-cell interactions in SOS-stress response, methionine biosynthesis and overall metabolic activity. Together our data show that gene expression patterns in bacterial groups are highly nonrandom in space.
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